Masters: Jordan Spieth leads but it's an unlucky 13 for Sergio Garcia

07 April, 2018, 00:56 | Author: Alyssa Little
  • Woods grabs spotlight as Leishman takes lead

It certainly makes him more human.

Jordan Spieth has had a tame start to 2018.

He has some catching up to do.

In benign late afternoon conditions, Spieth played some immaculate approaches and recorded five successive birdies on the back nine, the first time he has done so in a major. Four birdies on the first nine and two more on the back offset a single extra bogey on 14 - the hardest hole of the day.

Spieth has finished second, first, third and 11th in his four Masters and has been in the final group on Sunday every time.

"It's round one and I know as well as anyone anything can happen here at Augusta", said Spieth, who has now held the first round lead in three of his five Masters. "It's about riding momentum from last week and this round".

He toiled at the final hole before a stunning wedge shot limited the damage to a bogey, and a six-under-par 66 was enough for Spieth - the 2015 champion - to lead by two shots.

"I feel like the game's in good form".

McIlroy also made a number of testing par putts to preserve his score.

Yes, he eagled the par-5 13th as so many have through the years. "It's nice that I came out to play", Woods said. "I've played really well here and that's the work of the team and our plan". They have it right where they want it. It's really hard to run away with (the tournament), but it's also really easy to lose it out there. One day after making a hole in one at the Par-3 Contest, then dislocating his ankle (and popping it back in) while celebrating, Tony Finau not only teed it up in Round 1 but at one point found himself with the solo lead. He cleared hundreds of fans before attempting to play through a spectator walking area.

Finau (ankle) cleared to play at Masters
The 9-hole Par 3 course allows for a much looser, more fun atmosphere than does the seriousness of the Masters tournament itself. Finau, ranked No. 32 in the world, is playing in his first Masters. "Crazy day", he wrote on Twitter on Wednesday night.

"I feel like I won the two best major championships", he said, offering an apology to the other two, the U.S. Open and PGA Championship.

"It's one of those things", he said, flabbergasted.

Spieth was even through seven holes but he turned it up after that. Spieth was among 10 players who broke 70 - a list that included Rory McIlroy - on a warm, sunny day with a moderate breeze that looked ideal for scoring.

It was just tough to score, with the greens slick and firm and several tough pin positions, mainly toward the front of the greens.

"Absolutely, absolutely", said Kuchar, who shot 31 on the back nine. He parred in from there for a 9-over 81, the worst first-round score for any defending (defenseless, in this case?) Masters champion.

"I don't know what to tell you", said Garcia.

Seventh-ranked Rory McIlroy, chasing his first Masters title and a career Grand Slam, salvaged pars on the last three holes for an opening-round three-under par 69 on Thursday at Augusta National.

As Steve Rawlings explained earlier in his comprehensive Masters preview, (which includes a lovely ante-post bet on Spieth), only Tiger and Phil Mickelson have won this major from outside the top-ten on day one. His drive on No. 3 almost reached the green until it rolled back down the slope, and he hit a safe pitch to about 10 feet for birdie. He drove into a bunker at the par-4 fifth and left the sand shot well short of the flag.

It might have been worse, Woods draining a 20-foot putt for just a bogey to go three-over-par for his round. And he never got back to par, losing even more ground around Amen Corner. Just under a year ago, he was going through a fourth back surgery. "It's like being governor and coming back to be governor again", he said. "I couldn't get it closer with a bucket of balls". There's a lot of holes to be played.

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